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Take a Bite Off Chronic Pain

The Rehabilitation Department at Hayward Area Memorial Hospital has partnered with providers from Essentia Health and NorthLakes Clinic to create a program designed to help patients suffering from chronic pain. Research has found that a multidisciplinary approach to treating chronic pain is most successful. Registered Dietitian, Kerrie Gamboni is a member of the Chronic Pain team, helping patients through nutrition education and eating foods that fight inflammation.

Chronic pain can lead to side effects such as decreased activity, depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating and an overall decrease in quality of life. Nutrition plays a very important role in treating chronic pain. A healthy body weight (BMI of <25 and >18.5) is essential to help decrease pain. Excess body weight can lead to extra pressure on joints and cartilage. Obesity is also associated with higher blood levels of substances that lead to inflammation. If you need assistance to reach a healthy body weight, your physician may refer you to a registered dietitian.

Low vitamin D levels can have various effects on the body including pain and low energy levels. Vitamin D supplementation may be necessary, particularly during the winter months with less exposure to the sun. Turmeric supplementation may be helpful to reduce chronic osteoarthritis pain. Consult your primary care physician to determine if supplements are appropriate for you.

Foods that fight inflammation are recommended to reduce chronic pain. Picking even one thing from the list below can help make a difference and is a great place to start. Nutrition treatment for chronic pain is similar to the Mediterranean Diet and includes:

• Plant based foods including fruits and vegetables, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, apples, berries, oranges and cooked, dried beans and lentils.
• Eat whole grains instead of white bread, rice and refined cereals. Check labels to ensure foods are 100% whole grain.
• Increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake with nuts (especially walnuts), fish, canola oil, soybean oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, ground flaxseed, eggs with high omega-3 FA, pumpkin and chia seeds.
• Replace butter and saturated fats with healthy oils such as olive, canola, coconut, avocado, or grapeseed oil.
• Keep your sodium intake less than 2,000 mg/day. Utilize herbs, spices, or Mrs. Dash to season foods in place of salt.
• Limit red meat.
• Choose dairy products that are 1% or skim.
• Avoid processed foods, concentrated sweets and beverages sweetened with sugar.
• Drink 64-96 ounces of water daily.

To find out if the Pain Rehabilitation Program is right for you, contact your Primary Care Provider.

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